This is worth reading


Running the Barkley.

It’s the sort of extreme running event that extreme running events think goes too far, an event where people literally lose their minds while running it. They start hallucinating, get amnesia, totally lose themselves. It’s a race that’s almost designed not to be finished.

It reminds me of a profile I read some time ago about a distance runner and his training methods. He’s from Eastern Europe somewhere, and he does the same thing: runs until the pain is too much and the exhaustion made him hallucinate and go mad. The quote that stuck with me (which I’ll have to paraphrase) is from his trainer, who believed that when the runner was telling them the pain was too much, when he hallucinated, thought he’d gone blind, couldn’t remember where he was or why he was running, that was the point at which the trainer thought he’d given about 50%.

There’s a temptation to turn all this into a lesson for my own life. Maybe you feel that temptation, too. I mean, what’s the analog in my life for a long project that makes me crazy? Not writing a novel. I may complain about it (because I’m a crybaby, but you knew that) but it never drives me to the point of hallucinating. Maybe if I wrote something as long and complex as George RR Martin’s series, I’d have something comparable. I mean, seriously, writing a novel is not that hard.

Of course, there’s also parenting, but the rewards of that are self-evident, no matter how grueling it can become.

But it’s interesting to me, to see what people can achieve. It’s strange to think of something as the upper limit of human endurance, only to discover other people blow past them regularly.